Every year on December the 6th, the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Nicholas of Myra (known as “the Wonder-worker”). While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, not much is known of the life of Nicholas.
From what is known, he was archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicea in 325, although the latter fact is uncertain. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers. He is also the basis for the Santa Claus legends and imagery which accompany Christmas celebrations in some parts of the world.
St. Nicholas is commemorated by the Church on December 6, and also on May 9 (the transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).
After he inherited his parents’ estate, he became known for his generous gifts to those in need. As a youth, he made pilgrimages to Palestine and Egypt.
In time his fame in northern Europe as a saintly bishop began changing to that of a giver of gifts to children, usually done on December 6. As immigrants from the Germanic and Nordic lands settled in the United States the image of St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” as he is known among the Dutch, slowly changed to that of “Santa Claus” with little tie to the spirituality of Christianity.
Find out more about Saint Nicholas by visiting the sites linked below:
Saint Nicholas, pray for us.